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Universal Credit: 25% increase in the demand for food from PATCH

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A LOCAL Liberal Democrat politician wants action after hearing shocking figures relating to hardship in Pembrokeshire

Alistair Cameron, a prospective Parliamentary candidate for West Carmarthen and South Pembrokeshire has called for urgent changes to Universal Credit following revelations that the number of people seeking emergency food has increased by 25% since it was rolled out in Pembrokeshire between September and November last year.

Mr Cameron visited the Milford Haven Headquarters of Pembrokeshire Action to Combat Hardship (PATCH) where Tracy Olin said there had been a 25% increase in the demand for food from PATCH (which also provides clothes and household essentials) since the introduction of Universal Credit.

Alistair said: “In some cases, the introduction of Universal Credit has caused desperate hardship. People are experiencing extreme delays (between 4 and 6 weeks) in receiving payments and are relying on organisations such as PATCH for food. Moreover, deductions from benefits (such as for rent or electricity) can leave someone with as little as £7 a week. Missing a ‘signing on’ appointment (even if it is not your fault) can result in the withdrawal of a benefit (sanctions) which can also lead to serious problems.

“Universal Credit needs to be substantially changed. A 4 to 6 week waiting time is completely unacceptable and this must be reduced drastically.

“People’s circumstances can be made worse by mental health issues. Poverty can cause mental health problems and mental health problems can cause poverty. However, our health teams cannot
cope with the workload and there needs to be adequate staff with mental health training to deal with the demands.”

PATCH help those who need assistance to get back on their feet and live independent lives. They are highly organised and receive local donations (such as food from supermarkets) which are neatly stored at their headquarters (a former primary school). These are then given to those who need help in Milford Haven or at their other bases in Pembroke Dock, Haverfordwest and Begelly.

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Tenby woman in British Bake-Off 2019

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A MOTHER from Pembrokeshire is in the mix to challenge for this year’s Great British Bake-Off crown.

Michelle Evans-Fecci, of Tenby, has beat off competition from thousands of hopefuls to be chosen to take part in the nation’s favourite culinary contest.
Well-known locally for her cakes and bakes, Michelle, aged 35, is a self-taught baker.

She first fell in love with baking as a child, watching her mother cook at home on their farm in Carmarthenshire.

She works as an administrator in the Tenby print shop, Trade Canvas Print, which is owned by her husband Ben Fecci. To the delight of her husband and teenage son, she bakes almost every other day, with fresh bread for breakfast and sweet treats for pudding always on the menu. She loves to experiment with flavour combinations, using seasonal produce from her garden.Michelle first applied for GBBO back in 2015, when she reached the short-list of 50 out of around 13,000 applicants.

Michelle has spoken about how thrilled she was when she found out she had made it to the tent.

“I was so emotional when I found out, I cry when I am happy and cry when I am sad. I have wanted it for so long, so I couldn’t believe it,” she said.

“To meet all the bakers was so memorable and I have found life long friends that have the same passion as me,” she continued.

When asked what she would bake to represent the happiest day of her life, Michelle said: “The day we got married we christened our son on the same day. So we didn’t have a wedding cake, we had a cheese stack made of six tiers of Welsh cheese. So I would probably remake that as a cake. Our favourite cakes are chocolate cake and carrot cake. I would make one look like stilton, one would look like camembert and various cheeses.”

The Bake-Off is a huge programme, loved by millions, there is understandably a high degree of secrecy involved in the production.

“I have been quite limited to the number of people that I have told,” said Michelle, “but I think they will be so pleased as they know I have wanted it for so so long, so they will be really pleased.”
Michelle has always been a huge fan of the show and when quizzed on her favourite contestant from past seasons, she replied: “Martha from Series 5. I love her style and how they photograph her bakes. She seems very down to earth and I have bought her book so we could talk about that while we wait to get rescued!”

The Great British Bake-Off has been running since 2010 and is now into the tenth season. Originally broadcast on BBC, now is shown on Channel 4 with millions tuning in to watch it every week. The presenters and judges remain the same, with Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig back for another year of puns.

Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith will also be on hand to judge the best bakes produced in the famous white tent.

This year’s line-up consists of a baker’s dozen – 13 – instead of the usual 12, and there’s a decidedly younger contingent. More than half of the contestants are in their 20s, while the oldest contestant is 56.

It will be air every Tuesday from 8 pm.

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Celebrating a shared history

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AN EXCITING new arts, heritage and tourism project celebrating links between North Pembrokeshire and Wexford in Ireland is being launched in September.

‘Ancient Connections’ will revive links between the two communities from as far back as the Stone Age, through medieval pilgrimages to more recent history.
The two Celtic lands have much in common.

For example, the long term friendship between St David, patron saint of Wales, who spent much of his life in St Davids, and his pupil and protégé St Aidan who is closely associated with the town of Ferns in Wexford.

A more recent link is the first manned flight across the Irish Sea in 1912.

‘Ancient Connections’ is the result of collaborative working between Pembrokeshire and Wexford county councils, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and Visit Wexford.
Funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Ireland Wales co-operation programme, the project’s aim is to motivate both communities to rediscover their shared heritage and to
be mentors for one another, sharing knowledge, experience and skills.

Hopefully, this will create a stronger sense of identity and place that will continue to flourish in years to come.

The stories that emerge from the project will also be utilised to create ways to attract visitors to North Pembrokeshire and Wexford outside of school and summer holidays.

For the next three years, there will be a burst of creative activity in both regions including: commissioning of new artworks, revival of traditional skills, exploring the significance of pilgrimage in the modern world, archaeological digs, storytelling and gathering, live music and schools projects, as well as mentoring and support for businesses and community projects.

To find out more about the plans to deliver this ambitious project and how to get involved, the public are invited to attend the launch at Ty’r Pererin, Quickwell Hill, St Davids SA61 6PD between 9.30 am and 4pm on Tuesday, September 24.

The day will be divided into morning and afternoon sessions that will include presentations and performances as well as hands-on activities and walks.
Register in advance through Eventbrite at:https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ancient-connections-project-launch-lansio-prosiect-hen-gysylltiadau-registration-65027612339
Spaces are limited and will be allocated on a first-come-first served basis.

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Plans to re-open night club put forward

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THE FORMER Chequers nightclub in Penally could be granted a new license if plans are given the go-ahead.

Now under the name of the Queen of Clubs, the new license would see the building operate as a nightclub on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays as well as bank holidays.

The building currently has a license to operate as a restaurant and tea room but the new license would see the club open from 8pm to 4am.

However, the club is located next to a holiday park, whose manager has objected to the plans, as have Penally Community Council.

The owner of the Holiday Park has said that having live music will disrupt the peace and tranquility that is currently enjoyed.

They also say that it will ‘threaten the safety of all the residents’ through drunken and ‘drug-influenced behaviour’.

Penally Community Council have also objected stating there are a number of historic problems with the site with Police being called on numerous times to deal with issues.

Other concerns include road safety and litter while one objector described the site as an ‘entirely inappropriate’ place for a night club.

The Chequers nightclub closed in 1997 and plans to re-open it were put forward five years later but that was rejected by the Council’s Licensing Committee.

The new application, from Mrs Carmen Clemas, will be discussed on Thursday (Aug 22) at the Council’s Licensing Committee.

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